According to a U.S. survey done by OwlLabs in 2019, nearly a third of Americans (approximately 51 million) worked from home on either a full-time or part-time basis. Due to jobs that let you ditch the traditional office environment, and the flexibility that working from home allows, the OwlLabs survey proves that working from home is showing a serious spike in popularity.
There is, however, one problem that can plague new and seasoned remote workers alike: how do you stay on task and maintain a work/home separation without being distracted or burdened by your physical surroundings? Below are a few tips that can help you succeed when working from home.
1. Get Organized
This is arguably one of the most important tips for any freelance or remote worker working from home. Getting and staying organized can help you stay on task and feel more productive in your working space. To start getting organized, try:
- Color coordinating your tasks/calendar;
- Keeping your workspace free of clutter;
- Keeping all daily-use items readily accessible;
- Keeping your workspace clean;
- Designating a space for printing, mailing, writing, and so on.
2. Purchase Proper Business Tools
Even when working from home, you still need to make sure you have all the proper tools to succeed. This can include basic office supplies like a stapler, three-hole punch, or folders — or even bigger purchases, like a filing cabinet, a printer/scanner, or a dedicated storage unit to reduce unnecessary clutter.
Once you’ve outfitted your office or workspace, it’s time to turn to intangible business essentials that will keep your work on track, no matter where you are. This includes a company blog, mobile apps, business security solutions, financial managing software, or any other intangible tool you need to complete your work.
3. Create a Daily Plan
A comprehensive daily plan, that goes outside of purely necessary project deadlines, can set you up for recurring success. Make time for meals, work meetings, office or conference hours, solo project work, and include project deadlines and company events. If possible, create your daily plan ahead of time — the night before is ideal. This can help maximize your overall daily productivity, as you aren’t taking away time from your day to make your daily plan.
4. Dedicate a Set Work Space
Whether this is a room in your home, or a separate office space you rent, it’s important to dedicate a set space that is meant solely for work. This is where you will create your work/life balance, and where you can store everything work-related without getting it mixed up with your personal belongings.
Try to refrain from creating this workspace near any distractions, such as a TV, or in pre-dedicated spaces, such as your bedroom, your kitchen, or the dining room. If you don’t have a spare room for office space, set up a desk facing toward a window or pleasingly decorated wall, and facing away from these pre-dedicated spaces to maintain separation.
5. Be Your Own IT Department
If you rely on technology to get your work done, a part of your job will be to learn exactly how that technology works. This way, if anything were to happen, you can feel confident in performing routine reboots or basic repairs. Get to know your hardware, such as your laptop or printer, by reading the manual or watching informational videos from the manufacturers. Get to know your software, such as Photoshop or Shopify, by completing tutorials and consulting helplines when necessary.
6. Understand the Importance of Communication Skills
When you work solely from home, your communication skills may need to evolve, due to the lack of face-to-face interaction with clients and co-workers. It’s important that you work on your communication so that when you have conference and video calls, or in-person meetings, you are able to speak clearly and professionally, without relying on body language or environment. You can keep your skills sharp by holding video meetings or conference calls with co-workers, or attending networking events for your industry.
7. Take Breaks
One misconception people may have is that working from home is “easier” than working on-site. And while working from home certainly offers some perks, it is still work — the same as any on-site position. Just like when you’re working on-site, it’s important to take breaks throughout the workday. This can help you unwind and regroup when necessary, as well as combat burnout and mental fatigue. While it’s tempting to have a working lunch or work past your designated shift while working at home because all of your work is so readily accessible, taking breaks is key to maintaining a healthy attitude.
8. Minimize Distractions
Distractions can be one of the hardest-to-combat symptoms of working from home. If you have a designated room for your office, try to keep it free of distracting items that you may not find in an on-site office or work environment. Distracting items may include, but are not limited to:
- Cell phones;
- Gaming consoles;
If you are unable to avoid any of these distractions in your workspace, try to set time limits on interactions with them during your workday.
9. Keep in Contact With Coworkers and Supervisors
Regular contact with coworkers not only helps to keep up with your communication skills, but it can help create a sense of community and make you feel more connected to your company or working culture. Organizational company culture is important to maintain, even when your position is remote, because of the benefits it provides for employees and the company as a whole. Benefits of a positive organizational company culture include:
- Strong company identity and values;
- Employee compliance with company values;
- Employees can work easier together;
- Inspires employee loyalty;
- Improves overall working attitudes.
If you run your own business and don’t have employees or co-workers, then try to maintain a cordial working relationship with other business owners in your industry, so you have someone to talk shop and connect with on work matters.
10. Get Fresh Air
It's important to take care of your body and brain in any working environment. Taking a moment to step outside and get fresh air when you’re on a break is beneficial in many ways. Fresh air can:
- Reduce stress;
- Create focus;
- Relieve mental fatigue;
- Improve mood.
How to work successfully from home is a question on the minds of a lot of Americans today. With these tips, you transform any home office or working space to feel as put together, productive, and exciting as any on-site office.